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Experts fear epidemic as open defecation rise

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By Abraham Adekunle

Story of highways and roadsides where open defecation is done with impunity.

Nigeria odorous reputation for widespread open defecation seems to have come to stay. This sordid act is perpetrated with impunity along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, from Kara to the New Garage bus stop. Open defecation is the human practice of defecating outside (or in the open) rather than into a toilet. People may choose fields, bushes, forests, ditches, streets, canals, or other open spaces for defecation. They do so either because they do not have a toilet readily accessible or due to traditional cultural practices.

In the case of the aforementioned places, the people engage in the act because they do not have a toilet. The roadsides are splattered with foul-smelling, congealed human waste, which leaves pedestrians and road users at the mercy of intolerable stenches and environmental pollution. Speaking with news correspondents, Samuel Bewaji, a driving instructor, said that having to pass through the polluted median, coupled with safety concerns of crossing the busy road was a challenge he faced daily.

Call on Ogun government to clear the area and construct a bridge.

He said, “While crossing, if you don’t watch your steps, you’ll step into the feaces. The stench of the place is terrible.” He lamented that most of the people hanging around this area are homeless and they come to the middle of the road late at night to mess up everywhere. He further said that at Kara, the situation is worse such that open defecation is practiced in broad daylight as against here, where it is done mostly at night.

The driving instructor called on the Ogun State government to clear the excreta and construct a pedestrian bridge to ensure the safe crossing of pedestrians. Not long after the interview, blatantly ignoring the angry stares from pedestrians trying to cross the road and also turning his back on motorists caught in the gridlock which had become synonymous with axis, a dispatch rider, identified as Friday, parked his motorbike and openly urinated by the roadside. He seemed relieved and glad to have done the act before continuing his Lagos-bound trip. Friday claimed that he had to carry out the act there because “there was nowhere else to pee.”

Delivery bike man caught in the act of open defecation.

Ironically, when correspondents asked him why he did not request to use the toilet inside a petrol station which was close to where he carried out the act and had earlier refilled his fuel tank, he claimed to always avoid public toilets for fear of contracting an infection. According to him, whenever he goes on his all-day trip around Lagos making deliveries, he answers the call of nature in the bushes around. From observation, open defecation in the area is mainly perpetrated in the night or before dawn.

People who do it are reportedly mostly homeless persons, traders, pedestrians and others. It is said to be worse in areas with no public toilet. As reported combed the New Garage, Kara and OPIC axis, pockets of feaces littered the stretch amid dirt and pools of stagnant water. Around that time, some homeless persons residing on and under the pedestrian bridge at Berger bus stop and under the bridge at Magboro were discreetly having their baths while evading the light beams from the motorist’s headlights.

Revenue collector absolves “garage people” of being involved.

According to a revenue collector at New Garage, Ganiyu Shonubi, those who conduct “legitimate” activities around the area are complicit in defacing and polluting the environment with fecal matter. Although he claimed to only work for a few days at the park, he and other colleagues make use of the public toilet at the back of a nearby pharmacy. Still bent on ensuring that those who conduct their businesses at the garage are not implicated in open defecation, Shonubi alleged that passers-by were those responsible for the feaces dotting the median.

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